SpaceX Starship investment almost reaches staggering $5 billion mark

Elon Musk recently said he 'would be surprised' if Starship doesn't reach orbit by the end of the year.
Chris Young
Starship during its first orbital launch attempt.
Starship during its first orbital launch attempt.

SpaceX / Twitter 

SpaceX is expected to exceed $5 billion invested in its Starship program by the end of the year.

The figure was flagged in court filings and comments by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, according to a report by SpaceNews.

SpaceX's Starship launch system was designed to be fully reusable, dramatically reducing the cost of successive launches. It is part of Musk's original vision for SpaceX to make humanity an interplanetary species by helping to establish a colony on Mars.

The first orbital launch attempt of Starship ended in a dramatic explosion. SpaceX ultimately viewed the test flight as a success, though, as it collected a wealth of valuable data.

SpaceX could face environmental group in court

The court filings highlighting the figure SpaceX has invested in Starship thus far were filed in response to a lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

An environmental group filed a lawsuit against the FAA following the first launch of the fully integrated Starship system — SpaceX has conducted high-altitude flight tests of Starship's upper stage in the past. Still, the April test flight was the first time Starship and the first stage Super Heavy took to the skies.

The environmental group accuses the FAA of failing to adequately assess the potential ecological impact of Starship, citing a 3.5-acre fire on state park land after the launch, as well as the cloud of potentially harmful debris caused by the explosion.

On May 19, SpaceX filed a motion asking to be added as a defendant in the lawsuit, arguing that it should be allowed to defend itself in a case that could have a massive negative impact on the company and "substantial national interest."

Environmental lawsuit could "significantly delay" Starship development

In its motion, SpaceX included a statement from Bret Johnsen, chief financial officer at SpaceX, highlighting that, since 2014, "SpaceX has invested more than $3 billion into developing the Boca Chica launch facility and Starship/Super Heavy launch system."

During a subscriber-only online Twitter discussion on April 29, Musk estimated that SpaceX would spend roughly $2 billion on Starship this year alone. "It'll probably be a couple billion dollars this year, two billion dollars-ish, all in on Starship," he explained, adding that SpaceX wouldn't need to raise extra funds from outside sources.

The SpaceX CEO also said he expects Starship to launch four to five more times this year, and he "would be surprised" if the massive Mars rocket doesn't reach orbit by the end of the year.

However, SpaceX has warned in its motion that the environmental lawsuit against the FAA could cause "significant delays" to the Starship program. That could negatively impact its ability to fulfill key US government contracts, including developing a modified Starship lunar lander for the crewed Artemis III Moon landing currently scheduled for 2025.

According to Musk, Starship could be ready to launch again within a month or two, but FAA clearance may be another challenge altogether.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board